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Solo: a Two-Person Show

By Ruth Reader | Posted 6/4/2008

Solo: A Two-Person Show

Ran May 30 to June 1 at Theatre Project

Seen here last in 2004, Under the Table, the Brooklyn, N.Y., physical theater ensemble returned to Baltimore for another uproarious performance. Four years ago, the troupe performed the original play Fever Pitch as a response to the art community's lack of response to Sept. 11 and its surrounding politics. This year the group graced the stage with Solo: A Two-Person Show, a performance about life, death, brotherhood, and loss.

It was a refreshing and unsettling change from politics. Solo--a spot-on performance by company co-founder Matt Chapman and actor Josh Matthews--looked inside feelings about sibling rivalry and the loss of family. Using the company's signature comedic style--a sort of manic energy--the duo discussed the impending death of Matthews' character.

The play oscillated between serious dialogue, childish games, and parodied metaphors on life. The brothers engaged in trips to the jungle or the mountains and talks with the devil. And despite the silliness the brothers' world of make-believe, an impending doom hung low over the boys. Chapman's character was acutely aware that his brother was going to die. He kept bringing it up, as if there was something he could do to prevent it. Instead, his brother told him to keep on with the story, fun, games, and shared memories until the end.

Solo goes out with a song--a song that sounds like something you would imagine clowns dancing to and which is played in the middle of the play as well. The brothers introduce it with, "Nothing's left except this stupid song." They then engage in silly low-end acrobatics and corny stunts. But the song's theme, and perhaps one of the best themes derived from this show, is that after death the things that are left behind are often trite--a song, some memories, some photographs. These are things we enjoyed while we were here, but things that lose meaning after we're gone.

Under the Table performed three shows this weekend and received audience feedback after the Saturday performance. A percentage of the proceeds for the performance went to Clowns Without Borders (South Africa), a subdivision of the international organization Clowns Without Borders, which brings laughter to kids around the world, particularly to those in conflict zones and refugee camps. All in all, Solo proved to be a stellar performance by two very talented individuals.

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